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The War Between the States:
America's Uncivil War

One of the foremost objectives in publishing The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War (WBTS) is to provide to home school and private school students a comprehensive, historically accurate, and artistically attractive account of the war, its causes, and its aftermath and implications for latest generations. The origins of the book lie in John J. Dwyer’s inability to find such a work to adequately supplement his own teaching in a Classical Christian school history class.


Since the book also provides a feast of information and illustrations for the general reader outside the classroom, we have cleared it of ancillary material that would normally appear in a textbook, such as study questions, key terms, and recommended resources. We are placing all these, along with quizzes, tests, lesson plans, chapter summaries, and suggested projects and activities, within this online study guide. It will be an ongoing project, and we shall add more material as we go.


A whole coterie of historical scholars, both in front of and behind the scenes, have contributed to assuring that WBTS offers the most accurate, thorough, and up-to-date scholarship possible on the material it covers. John and others associated with the book envision many uses for it in the educational realm, including:

  • Home school Unit Studies

  • Private school American History classes

  • Collegiate American History courses

  • School and public libraries

  • Reference book for teachers

  • Research tool for students of all ages


We hope The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War, and our online study guide, provide you with an enjoyable and beneficial learning adventure!

The Authors

John J. Dwyer serves as Adjunct Professor of History at both Southern Nazarene University and Oklahoma City Community College. He is former History Chair at Coram Deo Academy near Dallas, Texas. He is author of the new historical narrative The War Between the States: America's Uncivil War. He is also the author of the historical novels Stonewall and Robert E. Lee, and the former editor and publisher of The Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage newspaper.


George Grant, one of the leaders of America's resurgent classical Christian education movement, is Teaching Pastor at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee, director of King's Meadow Study Center, and coordinator of the Gileskirk Curriculum Project. He is the author of more than three dozen books, including Forgotten Presidents: The Men Who Served Before George Washington and the best-selling Grand Ilusions: the Legacy of Planned Parenthood.


J. Steven Wilkins is pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana. He is the author of several books, including Call of Duty: the Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee and All Things for Good: the Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, and the audio series America: The First 350 Years.


Douglas Wilson, another leading light in contemporary classical Christian education, is pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, an instructor at New St. Andrew~Rs College, and editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine. He is the author of numerous books on marriage, classical Christian education, and the Reformed faith, including Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Reforming Marriage, and Standing on the Promises.


Tom Spencer is secondary principal at Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, where he teaches a course on the War Between the States. He is the author of such books as The Seven Laws of Teaching: Lessons for Staff Training for the Unabridged Edition.

Part I – Causes of the War

Many factors contributed to the coming of the War of 1861-1865. The first section of the book (Chapters 1-11) examines several of the most crucial. We have broken them out into separate chapters (or groups of chapters), each containing its own chronological progression of events from the beginning, in some cases before the founding of America, to the brink of war.

The causes we explore include the burgeoning spirit of nationalism that turned the support of many Americans away from smaller, limited-government states to that of a larger, consolidated nation with a powerful central government. Also, the distinct regional identities that flowered, the differing visions Americans held for what their government--and country--should be, and where the ultimate authority for both should lie.

Other chapters cover conflicts over economics, including the volatile tariff issue, slavery—what it was and wasn’t, and what Americans believed and did not believe regarding it—and the differing religious and worldview perspectives held North and South. Part 1 concludes with “The Final Hours,” which chronicles the fever of events immediately preceding the War.

Part I Highlights

  • Nationalism, regionalism, and rationalism

  • States’ rights-Secession

  • The tariff and economics

  • States’ rights-Nullification

  • Slavery

  • Southern slavery as it was

  • Religion and worldviews

  • Final hours of peace

Part II - The War


In this section (Chapters 12-30), the book attempts not only to chronicle the great people, issues, and events of the war, but to go to where the important lessons and morals for all generations, including our own, lie.


The war itself unfolded primarily in two major theaters, East and West. The Eastern Theater roughly entailed the battles and campaigns occurring in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia; the Western Theater encompassed the action west and south of those states. Though the Eastern Theater encompassed the largest armies and battles, and many of the most famous figures, the authors believe the Western Theater possessed equal significance.


To aid the reader in following the flow of this vast conflict, Part II is divided into chapters both by the individual years of the war, and into Eastern and Western chapters for each year. In keeping with the aforementioned Christian worldview approach, the reader will note significant attention paid to acts and undertakings that present clearly moral dimensions, both good and evil. These include atrocities and clearly unbiblical deeds, as well as acts of Christian charity and the movement and expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ in the midst of war.


The book presents a large number of biographical sketches, particularly in this section, in the belief that history becomes more interesting and understandable when learned through the experiences, hopes, and fears of human beings. The biographies include not only the stories of soldiers and politicians, but of people from many different walks of life.

Part II Highlights


  • Abraham Lincoln

  • Border States

  • Eastern Theater battles and campaigns

  • Western Theater battles and campaigns

  • Home front, North and South

  • Battles at sea

  • Spies and intrigue

  • Religious revivals in the armies

  • The Copperheads (anti-war Northerners)

  • Soldiers of color—black, Hispanic, and American Indian

  • Stonewall Jackson’s military and spiritual leadership

  • Robert E. Lee

  • Rise and success of Ulysses S. Grant

  • Sherman, Sheridan, and Total War

  • Appomattox and assassination

Part III - Post-war and Reconstruction


The Post-war years and Reconstruction (1865-1877) constitute one of the most dramatic and pivotal periods in American history. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most overlooked and least understood. Most studies (and students) of the War Between the States ignore them; those contemporary publications that do explore them, typically do so through a politically correct, even Marxist, lens.


Part III of The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War, comprising the last quarter of the book, counters such works, which suggest that with sufficient power—whether lawfully exercised or not—the national government could have cured the nation’s ills, real and imagined, even after four years of unprecedented slaughter did not.

Part III Highlights

  • Peace in some ways harsher than war

  • Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson

  • Thirteenth – Fifteenth Amendments

  • Thaddeus Stevens and the Radical Republicans

  • Disputed fate of Jefferson Davis

  • Rise of vigilante groups such as the Ku Klux Klan

  • Struggles of free American blacks

  • The South’s struggle to recover from devastation

  • More bloody battles

  • Robert E. Lee as a leader in peace

  • Controversial end of Reconstruction


The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War features a vast gallery, years in the compiling, of over 530 illustrations of nearly every imaginable sort. They include paintings by John Paul Strain and others; photographs by Matthew Brady and others; political cartoons; period newspaper advertisements, campaign posters, song sheets, and other verse; and maps spanning every corner of the war, including the oceans of the world.

The People

Most people have heard of Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and perhaps a few other major figures from the era of the War Between the States. But what about the legion of other statesmen and soldiers, as well as inventors, theologians, slaves, industrial captains, spies, poets, musicians, artists, and common everyday folk that distinguished that unforgettable era? They comprise one of the most fascinating rosters of individuals ever found in one generation. Our new book brings them to life for you through nearly 100 biographical sketches so vivid they will help illumine the entire age and the issues that marked it.


Clara Barton – famed Northern nurse and founder of the American Red Cross.


Robert L. Dabney – Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff, who was compared to Jonathan Edwards as a philosopher, Charles Spurgeon as a preacher, and John Calvin as a theologian.


Thomas Nast – fiery, German-born Harper’s Weekly political cartoonist and artist who invented the modern American character of Santa Claus.


John Jasper – who preached for 25 years as a slave and 39 more as a free man and delivered some of the most powerful sermons in American history.


Rose O’Neal Greenhow – beautiful Confederate spy who moved among the highest echelons of Washington society and politics before being martyred at sea.


Jay Gould – Brilliant New Yorker and archetypal “Robber Baron,” whose scheme to corner the entire American gold market triggered the 1869 Black Friday Stock Market crash and the depression that followed.


Raphael Semmes – more than fifty years old and captain of the legendary C.S.S. Alabama, which hunted Federal ships in every ocean on earth.


Harriet Tubman – Courageous woman who escaped from slavery, then helped lead the Underground Railroad effort to transport other escaped slaves north to Canada.


George Armstrong Custer – The Federals’ dashing “Boy General,” whose fearless leadership in battle led to his legendary cavalry exploits following the war, culminating in the Battle of Little Big Horn.


Santos Benavides – South Texas business and political leader who became the war’s highest-ranking Hispanic officer.


Margaret Junkin Preston – Pennsylvania-born “Poetess of the Confederacy” and sister-in-law of Stonewall Jackson; Longfellow considered her one of America’s great poets.


Clement Vallandigham – Best-known of the Northern “Copperheads,” this eloquent Ohio Congressman was jailed, then exiled by President Lincoln because he opposed not the Union, but the war.


Stand Watie – Cherokee Chief who was the only American Indian general of the war; he bedeviled Federal armies all over the West and was the last Confederate general to surrender.


Varina Davis – Wise and beautiful wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who doggedly fought for his release from solitary prison confinement after the war.


Hiram Revels – Devout and eloquent minister who became the first black United States Senator. He fought for the rights of blacks and Southern whites alike during Reconstruction.


Matthew Brady – The most famous and innovative photographer in American history, his shots from the battlefield and home front alike comprise the preeminent gallery of the war.

John Paul Strain

John Paul Strain is roundly regarded as one of the greatest painters, living or dead, of American historical art. Jack has graciously donated the use of over two dozen of his works for The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War. More information about John Paul Strain and his incomparable gallery of work can be found at

Students and Teachers (Study Guide)

The purpose of the Study Guide for The War Between the States: America's Uncivil War, is to provide to home schoolers and Christian and other private schoolers the most comprehensive and factually-accurate resource available anywhere on this topic. All 38 of the book's chapters have their own multi-faceted study sections, which include chapter summaries, key identification terms, completion questions, timeline exercises, essay topics, further recommended resources, suggested projects and activities, and quizzes. The book also includes tests for various chapter groupings, and answer keys for all the objective-style questions.

So . . . enjoy this unique resource, and please feel free to e-mail your comments and suggestions to


One of the greatest religious awakenings in American history occurred not only during the war, but within its warring armies. The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War devotes an entire chapter, and parts of several others, to this sweeping phenomenon.


During just the four years of the War, at least 100,000 Confederate soldiers professed saving belief in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal salvation. That figure represents approximately fifteen percent of the entire Confederate army and is exclusive of the much higher number who entered the War as professing Christians. History records rare examples of such exhaustive subscription to orthodox Christianity across the width and breath of a nation’s entire army, especially while engaged in a marathon bloodbath for survival.


Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr., in his book A Shield and Hiding Place: the Religious Life of the Civil War Armies, suggests that Christian commitment amongst the Federal armies lagged during the early years of the War when they sustained so many defeats. Key victories, such as Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga, Shattuck suggests, lifted morale and fostered enthusiasm for spiritual pursuits, which in turn increased the Federals’ energy and commitment to their military duties: “The revivals, then, were probably the most vivid manifestation of . . . ‘the late, war-spawned élan’ of the Union troops, and those religious gatherings contributed markedly to stimulating the confidence and enthusiasm that Northern soldiers possessed in the latter stages of the war.”

John Speaks

Q: From where did the vision come for this book?

A: It began several years ago when I was asked to teach a series of classes on the War Between the States at a classical Christian schools in the country. When I saw the text they had for the War Between the States, I realized it was no more historically accurate or sensitive to a Constitutionalist philosophy or Christian world view than those in the government school curricula.

Q: How could that be?

A: The school told me they couldn't find anything better. The very catalog through which they ordered it offered a qualifier--an apology of sorts--for even selling it.

Q: What did you do?

A: I asked permission to put that book aside and bring in my own resources, and the headmaster happily granted it. Then I began to search for alternative publications.

​Q: What did you find?

A: Sadly, not much. In fact, the more I researched, the more I heard other people asking me to let them know if I came across anything better.

Q: Did you?

A: I never found a book that combined attractive, eye-pleasing cosmetics and graphics with a trustworthy historical account and world view. What I did find was a lot of people who wanted one, and a lot of materials and information with which to create it. It just needed someone to coordinate it.


Q: So you are the main author and the general editor?

A: That's right. We are field-testing the book this year at Coram Deo Academy, where I teach history.


Q: How would you describe the book in a nutshell?

A: This book offers the stirring narrative of America's greatest epic and worst tragedy. The War Between the States was in reality a Fifty Years War (1828-1877) and we present its story, beginning way before that and continuing today. This book presents the many reasons for the conflict, the major events and personalities that shaped it, and the issues resolved and unresolved by it. What sets the book apart from virtually any other modern narrative of the subject are the lenses through which it is written--the traditional principles of American Constitutionalism and a Biblically-based, Christian world view. We believe The War Between the States, America's Uncivil War, rich in stories and biographical sketches, rises above comparative works by refusing to accept the shackles and sleep- inducing constraints of politically correct doctrine. How much more dramatic, exciting, and unpredictable the true story!

Q: So this is not a rehash or updating of any of the hundreds or thousands of previous works on the subject?

A: First of all, we refuse to cater to anyone's notion of the truth other than that of history itself. Most contemporary so-called "scholarship" on most time periods and particularly of the American War Between the States is so blinded by materialistic, utilitarian, Marxist-oriented perspectives on government, society, and history that it fails the "smell test" for what is accurate history, not to mention how problematic its judgments and assumptions are to those who hold a Christian world view and a traditionalist perspective of Constitutional, Republican American government.

Q: How does this translate in your book?

A: The book is split into three sections, prewar, the war, and post-war and Reconstruction. The first section presents what I believe is the wisest,most circumspect, most complete and comprehensive chronicle I have ever read of the multiple and complex issues that led to the war. I'm not bashful saying that, because much of that section is comprised of material crafted by writers other than myself.

Q: What reasons do you cite for the war?

A: We present a whole host of reasons, including those related to nationalism and regionalism, States' rights and secession, slavery, the tariff and the economy, and religion and world view. Most texts and other presentations of the war focus on one or two of these, and through a liberal, politically correct filter.

Q: What about the war itself?

A: We offer, through all sections of the book, a galaxy of biographical sketches of men and women in all walks of life, not just soldiers and statesmen, but nurses, business people, poets, inventors, and clergymen. We want to present a time and place, not just a list of battles and casualty figures. We also pay much closer attention to the influence of Christianity, on people of different viewpoints in the war, than any other comprehensive book on the conflict that I have ever seen. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jeb Stuart, for instance, were not remarkable men simply because they were remarkable soldiers. They also helped spearhead one of the greatest religious revivals in American history. But that gets only passing glances, if that, from most of the pedigreed historians and their works.

One of the book's most compelling sections is the third and final one, on the post-war and Reconstruction period. Again, it is difficult to find an extensive treatment on this period that does not either superficially whitewash the issues or recast in terms of modern, collectivist sensibilities. We give fully the final quarter or more of our book to telling, as it has rarely if ever been told, the story of that watershed period of our history. I doubt that one American in a thousand has an inkling what that true story was.

Q: What are your hopes for this book?

A: First, that it would kindle a lifelong interest in the subject among its readers, in particular its young readers. Also, that it would teach them, in an interesting and informative manner, the full story of what happened during those extraordinary times, not the twisted, truncated, and wrong-headed version propagated en masse by the organized socialist conspiracy that is modern-day American academia and media. And finally, to challenge and inspire them to learn from the mistakes and accomplishments, the foolishness and brilliance, the cowardice and valor of our forefathers--all these held before the standard of God's Word--and to rise up as a generation of Christian men and women like none before it in all American history.

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